As the question said, how would you get introduced to a Patron in old Rome?

Would you merely go to the Roman version of the town hall and inquire about which people were available as patrons and then show up at meeting hours and introduce your work and hope he would take you on?

Or was it it more of a "I know a guy, who knows a guy whose roommate´s uncle is friends with someone who knows of a patron and for 5 Aureus I will set the wheels in motion, to get you introduced to him and he MIGHT take you on as a client.

Or was patronage more about who you were, as in since your uncle was a general under Caesar Augustus, your uncle can use his connections and write you a letter of introduction to the family of Pompaius who will become your patron. Basically unless you were someone or your family was, would you NEVER get introduced to a possible patron?

  • 5
    I don't know, but given that patronage is a zero sum game, it would make sense for clients to serve their patron by recruiting other potentially useful clients. Patrons want the most useful clients, so they're going to send out clients to find other recruits. While you might want a patron, that doesn't matter; what matters is which patron wants you.
    – MCW
    Commented Apr 24, 2021 at 10:31
  • 6
    You could start by having a look at Patronage in ancient Rome. Also, the OUP page Roman Patronage has some details and many useful references. Commented Apr 24, 2021 at 11:24
  • 4
    Idk, but - I'm a free, male, Roman citizen, so I have a marketable commodity - a vote. Patrons need votes, so - I find someone who will - invite me to dinner, help my son into a business or with my daughter's dowry. In return, he gets my vote. He gets another client to add to his retinue, showing how important /popular he is. Win-win.
    – TheHonRose
    Commented Apr 24, 2021 at 13:00
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    Some famous Romans (see Pompey) were so filthy rich, w/ so much land and random business around so many places, besides bossing over traditional gens / tribes and doing politics, that I do not even start to understand how they managed their business (trusted slaves? cousins / random gens members? a good question?). I suppose their management were not always the most efficient possible. These guys had so many issues that there must have been many opportunities to be useful to them, the issue would be to be noticed among the cacophony of clan members and random sycophants
    – Luiz
    Commented Apr 24, 2021 at 18:07
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    I don't have any sources at hand, but as far as I remember the system wasn't as much based on individuals but on families. Meaning, once you're born you typically become a client of your parent's patron. That doesn't cover all conceivable cases, but I'd think it covers the bulk. Commented Apr 25, 2021 at 8:35


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